By Samantha Storms
Assistant Arts & entertainment Editor
Following Compass Group’s 10-year contract renewal, dining services on campus have been revitalized to incorporate a new selection of eateries that better adhere to student’s dietary needs and wishes.
A team of administrative members as well as members of the Student Government Association (SGA) worked over the summer to brainstorm and accept the changes put forth by Compass Group during the proposal process.
“There had been, in previous semesters, a standalone dining committee,” said Vice President of Student Affairs W. Houston Dougherty. “We had a very productive set of meetings last spring, and now going forward we will meet at a very regular place on a very regular basis.”
Dougherty additionally noted Compass Group’s proposal to the university to be a main factor that led to their contract renewal – as they met all expectations from new programs to future expansion.
“In five years, nothing will look like it looks now,” Dougherty said. “Every semester going forward, there will be a new concept, a new venue.”
Changes made on the north side of campus include the refurbishing of Hofstra USA as a Smashburger and an addition to Dutch Treats called Build that allows you to build your own pizza.
In the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center, the contract has included the addition of G8, a station that does not include any of the eight major allergens in their menu items including tree nuts, fish, soy, dairy, peanuts, eggs, shellfish and wheat; a Chobani yogurt, fruit and seed bar; Student Choice, a dining option that features menu items chosen by students that vote via a website accessible by mobile phones; and Egg Shoppe, a station that offers breakfast all day.
In the Netherlands Core, Subway and Nathan’s have been replaced by Boar’s Head Deli and Oak Street Café, both of which offer items such as sandwiches and diner-style breakfast.
Finally, in the Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, an Au Bon Pain Express station has been incorporated that offers a similar menu to its South Campus equivalent.
Brandon Crofts, a sophomore math major, believed that the introduction of a new dining contract had the potential to offer a fresh new change to campus life. Despite the sentimental value that certain stations may have had for some students, he feels the changes are worthy of the student body’s consideration.
“It’s a new change of pace. I like it – it’s different,” Crofts said. “Just give it time and let yourself adjust. If you’re still this disoriented in a month, then maybe Hofstra messed up. It’s obviously a change, and it’s a big one, but we’ll just have to adjust.”
However, not all upperclassmen were so quick to accept the new dining contract at the cost of some of their favorite meal options on campus, particularly in regard to HofUSA’s replacement.
Johanna Fogle, a junior video, television and film major, felt that limited menu options were to blame for students criticism of the franchise.
“I don’t want to have that every night if I’m up late studying – I live in Enterprise, and if I walk over, there just isn’t a lot of things to eat,” Fogle said. “Even though HofUSA wasn’t a chain, you could have whatever you wanted. I don’t even like the food at Smashburger that much, so I don’t go over there anymore.”
Some students have refused to try certain new options all together.
“I haven’t even actually tried it because it’s just like fast food. If I wanted to get fast food I would go out to Burger King or McDonald’s because they are near here and the taste is better than Smashburger,” said Ashrakat Elsayed, a junior film and television major. “Also, there are vegetarians that are living here, so it really limits their choices.”
Dougherty mentioned that one of the largest obstacles of dining on campus is having to be open for service all day, every day. This limits the ability of having a constant diverse set of options available to students.
Compass Group’s Marketing and Communications Director Candace Chau believes that the decision to make such bold decisions in the crafting of the new dining contract reflects the desires of the student body well.
In the case of HofUSA, Chau explained that while Compass Group made changes to the facility’s menu each semester, the additions were never accepted with open arms. She said that since making slight menu changes never gained much traction, the time had come for a switch of franchise.
“Because I do interact a lot with the students, I’ll pop right into the conversation if overhear them talking about the changes. Usually, for Smashburger, they’ll ask, ‘Oh, what happened to HofUSA? Why?’ Chau said. “I usually tell them that students were asking for a change, and they wanted a different variety than what they’ve been getting.”
Rich Maha, the resident district manager for Compass Group, explained that over the course of the next four years, students can look forward to a number of new additions to the menu items of dining facilities across campus as the contractor continues to seek ways to diversify dining options and keep choices fresh.
Regarding students that are having difficulty accepting the new dining contract and the changes made to their favorite campus menus, Maha urges them to make their voices heard.
“Come have a conversation with us. Really, that’ll be the easiest solution to their concerns,” he said.